Parents say man had threatened suicide before factory shooting

By M.R. KROPKO, Associated Press Writer

ANDOVER, Ohio (AP) - The 6-foot-2, 300-pound man who opened fire at an auto parts factory, killing a co-worker and then himself, was described by his mother as a gentle giant.

Ricky Shadle didn't socialize at work and lived with his parents, spending his free time shooting at targets behind their house. He had learning disabilities and was teased his whole life, his parents said.

Before the shootings that killed a payroll clerk he was upset with and wounded two others, Shadle (pictured, above) told his parents he had cancer. He was worried his right leg would need to be amputated because of a grapefruit-size growth.

"He told me he would shoot himself first before he would have that leg amputated," said his mother, Rosalie Shadle.

The shootings happened about 8:20 a.m. Tuesday at Andover Industries in the northeast Ohio village, Ashtabula County Sheriff Bill Johnson said.

Shadle, 32, had worked at the plant for about five years. He reported to work in the production area, then said he was having medical problems with his leg and left briefly, Johnson said.

He returned with four handguns, including a 10 mm revolver, police said.

Worker Ron Stockflager said he heard Shadle swearing at a receptionist.

"The names went back and forth and then he pulled out a gun and shot her and then he continued his way through the building," Stockflager said.

Payroll clerk Theodora Mosley, 61, of Dorset, died. Witnesses said Shadle then closed himself in a room and shot himself.

Shadle's parents said their son, who lived at home, got upset with Mosley in July when she told him he had been denied a two-week vacation because he made a mistake in filling out his request for time off.

They said he always needed help filling out forms at the plant because of his learning disability. Rosalie Shadle said her son took the time off, and did not know he was denied the vacation until a boss threatened to fire him if he did not come back to work.

"He was so mad," said his mother. "He didn't know he wasn't getting a vacation."

At Mosley's home, grieving family gathered. Her son, Jared Gordon, could barely speak through tears. He said he knew of no problems between Shadle and his mother, who had worked at the plant nine years.

"I just want to know why. How could someone walk into a plant with guns?" Gordon said through sobs. "This guy was probably mentally unstable, he shouldn't have been allowed in the plant and he shot my mom in the back."

Two women from the plant were taken to St. Elizabeth's Health Center in Youngstown. Joyce Thompson Smith, 54, of Andover, was in critical condition, nursing supervisor Marsha Szmara said. Sue Martin, 35, of Andover, was in guarded condition, one step below critical.

Andover Police Chief Dan Vild said someone inside the plant of 700 workers called police during the gunfire, and the gunman was dead by the time Vild arrived.

Shaken workers left the plant holding hands and crying. The plant is the largest employer in the village of 1,220 people, Vild said.

Choking back tears, Vild said that he didn't think such a shooting could happen in Andover. He said he couldn't remember another fatal shooting in his 20 years as chief.

Andover Industries officials did not return messages left at the company's headquarters in Troy, Mich. Phones went unanswered at the plant, about 80 miles northeast of Cleveland. The company makes plastic car parts including dashboards and door panels.

Employees told officers Shadle did his job, but didn't mingle.

"He didn't get along like normal people would in a job setting, in other words, talking to people or something like that," the sheriff said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)